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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Only Thing I Really Want

The Only Thing I Really Want

I am a lucky guy.  In my older age, there is only one thing I really want.  Well, OK, a little extra cash would be nice, and everyone wants good health for themselves and their loved ones.  But beyond that I only want one thing.

OK, world peace would be nice, and a healthy economy.  Oh yeah, and an end to terrorism…but other than all that, I only lack one thing in my life.  That is, besides breaking 90 in golf, and averaging 190 in bowling, I only want one thing.  Playing guitar really well would be nice, and I wish I had a decent singing voice, but that is not the one thing I want that would make my life perfect…almost.

Did I mention a house at the shore…beach block?  That would be great, but that is not the one thing I really want.

Besides extra cash, good health, world peace, a strong economy, an end to terrorism, breaking 90 in golf and averaging 190 in bowling, playing guitar really well, a decent singing voice and a house at the shore on the beach block, I really, really want a wider driveway.

That’s it, a wider driveway.

We live in a town house.  It is a nice size for us, 2 ½ baths, a guest bedroom and a large master bedroom.  It has an eat-in kitchen, a family area and a living room and dining room that we almost never use.  We have a finished basement where I can hide from Mrs. Cranky and watch TV, exercise or practice guitar.  There is an association swimming pool in the summer, and it is a nice quiet neighborhood.  All is good, except we have a driveway that is only one car wide.

My car goes in the garage, Mrs. C parks behind in the driveway.  If I want to go anywhere, she has to move the car to let me out.  Then when I get back I park in the driveway behind Mrs. C.  When she has to go to work, I have to move my car to let her out.  It almost always seems that whenever anyone wants to go somewhere, they are blocked in because of our one car driveway.

I hear some of you asking, “Why don’t you just use whichever car is not blocked?” Good point.  Fine with me, but Mrs. C hates driving my Jeep, and she refuses to let me drive her car…she claims I adjust the seat and she never gets it back to where she wants it.  I know…get one of those computer seat setting things, maybe next car.

In the meantime, I only need one thing for life to be perfect, a two-car driveway…and maybe all that other stuff.

Life is good.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Hope You’re Happy

I Hope You’re Happy

I may have spoken in the past of Mrs. C’s tendency to be a hoarder.  If not, Mrs. C tends to be a hoarder*.  She is getting better, but still, she does have a problem letting things go.  If I threaten to toss some useless junk, her eyes gloss over and she gets a look of panic on her face.  We won’t be on that horrible hoarder TV show, but it is an issue.
The other day I was cleaning up some papers, tearing them up as they had some potentially sensitive numbers and information on them.  One page had no sensitive information on it and as I was about to tear it up, Mrs. C stopped me.
“I can use the blank side if I need to print something.”
“Oh please, that’s ridiculous, it’s a piece of paper, let me toss it.”
“It is a good piece of paper!”
This was not a battle worth fighting.
Fast forward a couple of days. 
We have a humidifier in our bedroom.  (We have forced hot air heating, and if you do not humidify the air you get dry skin and itchy scalp.) The humidifier broke down and we purchased an identical unit.  Mrs. C left the old unit for me to toss…sans the big globe that holds the water.
“Where is the water holding globe?”
“I’m not ready to throw it away yet.”
“Why the hell not?”
“In case the new plastic globe breaks.”
“You’re kidding!”
“Just leave it alone, I’ll take care of it.”
This was another battle not worth fighting; but I was annoyed that this globe that we would never use will take up space somewhere.  As I was fuming to myself, I saw the stupid piece of paper she did not want to throw away on top of a pile of similar stupid papers.
That’s right; I ripped it up and threw it away.
That night when Mrs. C came home from work she gave me that look.
“I hope your happy!”
I was pretty sure where this was going, but sometimes a wife will trick you.  Kind of like when a cop asks, “Do you know why I stopped you?”
I Played dumb, not wanting to admit to something she was not trying to have me confess.
“What are you talking about.”
“You threw away that piece of paper to spite me didn’t you!”
Damn, a borderline hoarder and a detective as well!!
“I hope you’re happy!”
I don’t know what or when, but there will be payback, and payback will be a bitch.

*Due to some comments I feel it necessary to reiterate, my wife is not an actual hoarder, we both just have very different ideas on the value of some objects.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why I Dawdle

Why I Dawdle
I dawdle a lot.  Mrs. C is often upset with me because of this. 
“Would you get moving, we're late.  Why do you always dawdle?”
Actually, my dawdling is a subconscious act.  I do not intentionally dawdle, it is my subconscious saying I am forgetting something.  I may get half way out of the door but my mind tells me, “Slow down, you’re forgetting something.” “What,” I ask my subconscious mind.  “I don’t know, just slow down.” “Well this is ridiculous, I’m late and Mrs. C is getting pissed.”  “OK, but you are forgetting something.”
“Are you coming, why must you always dawdle?”
“OK, I’m coming, WAIT, my cell phone charger cord, my phone is almost dead!” “See, I knew you were forgetting something.”
And that is why I dawdle.  It is also why I am often late.  I just about get out the door and I think I am forgetting something.  Sometimes I am, and dawdling pays off.  Sometimes my subconscious mind is wrong.  “Wait, you are forgetting something.”  “I don’t think so.”  “I think you are, you better dawdle and go through the check list.”
This is where I stop and start to pat down all my pockets to see what I’ve forgotten. “Back left pocket…wallet: CHECK.  Back right pocket…handkerchief: CHECK. Left front pocket…bill fold: CHECK. Right front pocket…cell phone: CHECK. Jacket pocket…car keys: CHECK.  Shirt pocket…Cigarettes: NO! Wait idiot, you stopped smoking years ago. OK subconscious, shut up.”
Right or wrong, my subconscious always makes me late.  Sometimes even after I go through the check list I forget something.
“You’re forgetting something!”  “I don’t think so, I’ve gone through the check list, I have everything and I’m late.” “OK, if you’re sure.”
I have gone to the gym without socks, or a shirt, or even my gym bag altogether.  I’ve gone bowling without my bowling ball, left for the golf course without golf shoes or extra balls, taken the train without my monthly ticket or arrived at work without my ID badge (the last two before retirement).  “I told you so!”
The check list doesn’t cover everything.  Sometimes I just don’t dawdle enough.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Old Fashion Fireplace

Old Fashion Fireplace
Rick at Life 101 posted about his blind dog loving a fireplace.  This kicked off some un-cranky memories.  Rick’s posts do that a lot.
The Cranky’s current abode is a townhouse.  We have a wood burning fireplace in the living room, and a fake fireplace that runs on gas in our basement.  Our basement can get a chill, so I use the gas fireplace a lot.  It looks like a wood burning fireplace, it puts off a lot of warmth, but it does not smell like the good old wood burning fireplaces.
I’ve only used the real fireplace in the living room once.  We just don’t use that room, it does not have a TV and Mrs. C does not share my fondness for the real thing.  Also, we don’t have much of a yard for stacking logs.
I’ve always had a wood burning fireplace where I’ve lived.  I do miss using the real thing.  Yes, they are a lot of work, but that is part of what I miss.  I miss stacking fire wood after it is dropped off by a dealer.  There is nothing like several cords of wood neatly stacked along the entire back of your yard.  It just makes it like you are prepared for all that the Winter can throw at you.  There is something rewarding about  stacking wood.
It is nice to just flip a switch and watch a gas flame flare against some ceramic logs, but it is not rewarding.  I enjoyed crumpling up newspaper, then covering the paper with kindling and finally a log or three.  Then you light some paper and hold it up in the chimney until you are sure the smoke will draw properly. 
Lighting the paper, watching the kindling catch and then the logs, a small bellows helped fan the flames…the whole process was just take-you-back-to-the-old-days rewarding.  Then there was the smell.  I loved the smell of a fireplace fire, especially if you were working with good slow burning maple, oak or fruit wood logs.
Finally, there is the process of tending to the fire.  You have to poke it from time to time, turn it, and add logs as needed.  Often that meant a trip to the wood pile at night in the cold and through the snow.  That sounds like a chore, but it made you feel like a pioneer, like you were doing something to protect and keep your family warm.
I like modern conveniences.  I don’t miss washing dishes by hand.  I’ll a save time by popping corn in a microwave.  I prefer the K-cup coffee makers.  I won’t give up the automatic transmission in my car.
I do miss the ritual, the process and the ambiance of a good old wood burning fireplace.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Look out for the Indians

Look out for the Indians*
 This re-run is from February 2013

This is a story about my mom.  There is no particular reason for telling it other than it is a family favorite and I want to make sure it is captured in print as family lore.

I seem to tell more stories about my mom than I do of my dad.  My dad was a remarkable man, incredibly smart, strong, and trustworthy.  He was just a solid guy.  Mom was the Lucy to his Ricky.  Dad was interesting, mom was a hoot (GIYP.)

My father was a Chemical Engineer and the family moved wherever his job demanded.  In the 1940’s it took them to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  They had a small farm on the outskirts of the city, where they had horses and for spare cash they raised and sold vegetables that were grown in a “hydroponic” green house, one of the first in the country.

When they moved to Oklahoma, mom and dad were invited to a small “getting to know you” gathering.  Mom struck up a conversation with one of her new neighbors.

“So, we are from back east, where are you from.”

“Oh…my family has been in Oklahoma for over one hundred years.”

“Oh my goodness, how exciting.  I can’t imagine how it was as an early pioneer.  It must have been so difficult.  Weren’t they afraid of the Indians?”

“Oh I don't think so Ma’am; they were the Indians.”

That was the end of the story as my mom always told it.  I am sure she laughed and was not the least bit embarrassed.

I expect her “Indian” neighbor thought she was a hoot; everyone else did.
*feel free to substitute "Native American" if you just does not work the same for me. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Stupid Headlines 021917

Stupid Headlines 021917
If you want my wooden shoes you'll have to pry them off my old splintered feet!
It’s time again for
This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments. 
State Investigating Tucson Cosmetologist Who Gave Free Haircuts – His license expired, he was stopped from helping the homeless; good job! Government regulation has saved the Tucson homeless population from having nice hair.  I know I feel safer.
Church bell ringer thrown in the air after getting foot caught in rope, rescuers say – The man was not seriously disabled, and I can’t help but snicker whenever I picture this happening…I may be going to Hell.
$325K wedding nixed after brawl erupts at rehearsal dinner, suit says This is terrible, I should feel sorry for all involved, but if you are spending 325 thousand dollars on a wedding…Ha ha ha ha ha ha! ...I am definitely going to hell.
Wife arrested on Valentine's Day after husband flees in boxers – Another case of mixing up your wife and your girlfriends card…oops!
Why UPS trucks (almost) never turn left – They want to make delivery great again.
Tennessee Man Slapped With $50 Ticket for ‘Obscene’ Bumper Sticker of Stick Figures – I think all those stick figure family things are obscene.
Liberal moms reportedly force school to cancel skating party at Trump rink – These same ladies stopped playing bridge every week because almost all hands were bid One No Trump.
Amanda Knox reveals same-sex, non-sexual relationship in Italian prison – Some people call these types of relationships “Friends.”
Harvard Computer Science Students in Trouble for Dating App With Only Two Genders Twenty six members of Harvard’s Undergraduate Council signed a letter admonishing the dastardly programmers for not including other genders (including “genderqueer” and “non gender-conforming”) in their list of options.”
They also left out Bi, Tri, Why, and Fatoldbaldcranky-sexuals.
NASA thinks there might be aliens on Jupiter’s moonWe’re going to need a much bigger wall!
Man Hires Hitman To Kill His Wife And Daughter, But Accidentally Texts The Plan To His Boss Instead – His contact said “Headman” not “Hitman.”  Somethings are probably better not sent as texts anyway.
Fox News Poll: Voters divided over trusting Trump or the media – That’s like asking a 4-year-old to choose between lima beans and Brussel sprouts.
Puppy Rescued From Well After 11 Days is Adopted by Firefighters Who Saved It – I am a sucker for dog stories…

Friday, February 17, 2017

Just Move Forward

Just Move Forward

Another cranky opinion for


The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with no expertise what-so-ever on the topic opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome, but they are wrong.  As always, please, no name calling, and that means you, you big stupid head!

Not that many generations ago, people traveled by horse.  They traveled on horseback, or they rode in wagons pulled by horses.  They traveled on crappy dirt or muddy roads.  But then, for the most part, people did not travel all that far.  Horseback or cart was good enough most of the time and dirt roads were fine if you didn’t have to travel very far.

Most people were fine with traveling by horse.

Early in the last century a motorized cart was invented.  It was called a horseless carriage and eventually, a car.  Those cars were different, they were noisy, they broke down a lot, and they were expensive.  Only the very rich could own one and it was mostly just a novelty.

Then, in 1913, Henry Ford started making cars by a new assembly line process.  Cars were affordable for more people and they were a bit more reliable.  As more people owned cars which traveled faster, roads slowly started to improve to accommodate the new transportation mode.  Still, the cars were difficult to drive, they were temperamental, fuel was not available at every corner, and the tires they ran on punctured easily.

By today’s standards those old cars were a mess.  No one would buy one today or want to take one cross country especially on those old crappy roads.  If in those 19teens the government mandated all citizens to purchase a car, there would have been a riot.

“These ‘cars’ are a disaster!  They break down, they are less reliable and more expensive than travel by horse, they are noisy, and fuel is not always easy to come by.  Mandating travel by car is crazy…BRING BACK THE HORSE AND BUGGY!”

If something new is not all it could be, should we just throw it away and go back to what was.

Yes, I’m talking about Obamacare.  Obamacare is a mess.  It is too expensive.  Doctors don’t like it, people avoid joining, and companies are dropping out of the system.  It is a disaster.

Except some people now have coverage they never had before and get care they may have avoided in years past.  

They may not go to emergency care where their expense in one way or another cost everyone to treat an illness that may have been prevented.

People with preexisting conditions are not left out in the cold and millions who want coverage can get it.

The early cars sucked; should they have been abandoned, or enhanced and improved?

Obamacare sucks, but without it, we would have never changed our healthcare system.  Now we are stuck with some good along with a whole lot of bad with a system that was forced down our throats because we were afraid of any change at all. 

I have no more of an idea how to improve our healthcare system than I would have known how to make a better car in 1910.  But we have innovative intelligent people in this country.  Get out of their way, keep politics out and Obamacare will be allowed to evolve into a better system.  It can’t and it won’t happen overnight, but if we allow innovation, problems will be resolved and we will have a system which keeps improving.

Or we could go back to bloodletting.  I’m told that while most people simply bled to death, it actually did cure a few very rare conditions…and it was a very inexpensive process.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man, and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017



I love old stuff.  Old stuff is interesting, old stuff tells a story.  Sometimes you have to imagine the stories, but that is part of the fascination of old stuff.

I did not always love old stuff.  Growing up we had a lot of old stuff, and my grandparents had really old stuff.  I was jealous of my friend’s homes which had modern furniture and plush wall-to-wall carpeting. We had old furniture and hard wood floors partially covered with old rugs.
As I got older, I learned that some old stuff was called antiques, hard wood floors were nicer than plush wall-to-wall carpet and old rugs made in Persia were called Oriental carpets.  Now one of my favorite TV shows is the “Antiques Roadshow.”  I like seeing other family’s heirlooms and hearing the stories behind those heirlooms.
When my mom passed, her old stuff and some of my grandparent’s old stuff was divided among three brothers, and some of that has since been divided among the children of said brothers.  When I visit my children, my brother or my sister-in-law it is always fun and nostalgic to see some of the old stuff I grew up with. 
Of the items I inherited, my favorite is an old desk.  I’m not sure when it was made, probably Civil Warrish, or earlier.  The desk is solid, it has  ornate carving, it is interesting.  It is hard to imagine that it was built piece by piece by hand.  No power tools, just patience and skill.
Here is the desk.
It is large and substantial.  Behind the drop down cover are several drawers and cubby holes
With the top down.
The decorative columns pull out for secret hiding spaces.

Hidden compartments in the columns

The ornate door has my great-grand parent’s family crest carved into it.  Behind the door are two more drawers and cubby holes.
Drawers behind the ornate door.
The ornate column hiding places are fairly common in older furniture, but if you pull out the right-hand column completely, it allows the two drawers and cubbies to be pulled out and reveal a hiding place not so common.
Surprise behind the drawers
Three more drawers
I suppose the days before fancy hidden safes, convenient banks with checking and safe deposit boxes, and distrust for what banks were in town; people had to be creative.  Instead of safes and safety deposit boxes, it was furniture that hid valuables and important papers.

That is about all I know of this desk, but in my mind, I can make up plenty of stories about where this desk has been and what it’s secret places held.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Setting the Jeep Clock

Setting the Jeep Clock
The clock on my Jeep is a pain to set.  It requires simultaneous button pushing and knob twisting.  I suppose if I had to reset the clock every week, I would learn how to do it with little effort.  As it is, it is a giant pain in the ass.
My solution is I just never change it.  The time in my Jeep is either on the money, or one hour fast.  If it is fast, it will be on the money when it comes time to spring forward.  Problem solved.
Last week I took the Jeep in for service.  Whatever they did, required taking off the battery cables.  When all was done and I went home, I realized my clock was 25 minutes slow.
When the clock was off by an hour, I immediately knew to subtract an hour.  With the clock 25 minutes slow, it was not so obvious that the time was off, beyond that, it is easy to subtract an hour in your head.  Adding 25 minutes is not rocket science, but It is mentally clumsy.
OK, I’m not too bright.
So, I had to adjust the clock.  Being a guy, I would not consult the directions for such a mundane simple process.  I pushed and twisted every combination of buttons and knobs I could, all without success.  I finally got so aggravated that I pulled out the owner’s manual and looked up “clock.”
The instructions were simple enough:
“Push in the button that says ‘clock’ until the hour blinks, then twist the control knob on the right until you reach the hour you want.  To adjust the minute, push the control knob.”
Easy enough, except every time I twisted the control knob, the hour stopped blinking but did not change.  I pushed, twisted and cursed for about 20 minutes.  “Holy Hannah!” How could adjusting the time on a clock be so friggin difficult.  I assumed it was just broken and I gave up.
When I came in the house, Mrs. C noticed the vein in my temple pulsating and asked what was the matter.  I explained the clock adjustment process was broken.
“It’s not broken, you just don’t know how to do it.”
“I even read the directions.”
“You still don’t know how to do it.”
“It’s Impossible, I did everything they say to do and then some…it does not work.”
“I’ll be right back.”
Mrs. Cranky was back in five minutes.
“I set it ahead exactly one hour, that way in April it will be on the money.”
“How did you do it?”
“What’s the difference, you’ll only forget by the time you need to ever change it?”
Good point. 
I think I’ll give her a five-year extension on our marriage contract.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Waiting for Pizza

Waiting for Pizza
We had a snow storm last Thursday.  Mrs. Cranky did not have work and did not feel like going out or cooking.  We ordered takeout pizza for dinner.  

Mmmm pizza!  

Jersey pizza!  

Made by a real Italian named Sal, not some mid-west cardboard crap pizza that is guaranteed delivered in 20 minutes, and not just pizza, but pizza with sausage and mushroom.

We ordered the pizza at 6:00 and I was hungry.  It generally takes about 30 minutes for delivery.  At 6:30 I was starving…hey, I’m old.  At 6:45 I suggested we call.  I was told to give it 10 more minutes.  Ten minutes later Mrs. C was as hungry as I was and she called.  She was told “You’re the next one out.”
Apparently we were not the only ones who did not want to go out in the snow or stay in and cook.  Should be only 15 more minutes.
Fifteen minutes later I was ready to chew on my arm. 
“What was that, the front door?”
“It’s just the wind.”
“This is torture, I’m starving.”
“Just hang on, I’m sure you’ll survive.”
The problem is, waiting for food doubles your hunger.  Waiting for pizza, pizza with sausage and mushrooms doubles the normal already doubled hunger.  This was fourple hunger (double squared.)
Ding Dong!
Finally; I threw myself to the front door, paid the delivery dude and floated back to the table on pizza fumes.  I poured myself a glass or red wine and grabbed my first slice. 
Apparently, the delivery guy got lost and that is why it took so long.   The pizza was cold and the normally soft crust was now crisp.  Thirty seconds in the microwave and it was warm and the crust was soft again, but re-heated pizza is never as good as right out of the oven pizza.
Still, it was Jersey pizza with sausage and mushrooms, and I was fourply hungry.  It was warmed over, but still good…all four slices.